Achieving Greater Social Impact
- 04 Mar
Social impact has always been at the heart of what housing providers do. The social housing business is about building communities and enhancing lives, not just the physical structures of housing.
Not surprisingly, the sector continues to seek ways to measure this social impact, in order to manage it better and achieve more.
By Andy Bagley, Real-Improvement
Several ways of measuring this impact have been developed over the years, Social Return on Investment being a prominent example. To date however, most studies have focused on community development activities or aspects of personal support, rather than the core business of housing itself.
Andy Bagley speaking about SROI at our Annual Conference in November 2012
The recently released report by HACT, The Social Impact of Housing Providers, is an exception to this in that it looks at the value people place on the accommodation they live in.
This takes account of factors such as space, garden, neighbour noise, damp and others, and attributes a financial value to these. Its author, Daniel Fujiwara, is widely recognised for this type of evaluation, and has written other studies including HM Treasury guidance.
The approach he focuses on is Wellbeing Valuation. Essentially, this uses research (principally from the British Household Panel Survey) to understand the value people place on various factors that affect their lives. One way of looking at this is to ask what level of compensation someone might expect in respect of a problem such as damp, in order to give them the same overall level of life satisfaction as someone without that problem. Based on this analysis the top three housing problems come out neighbour noise, damp, and poor lighting.
Understandably, this type of analysis tends to be fairly complex, and anyone reading this report should be prepared for an academic study, with detailed statistical tables and mathematical formulae as well as issues of understanding the concepts themselves. It's also worth noting that the benefits described are not unique to social housing; any type of housing provider, public private or third sector, could use these principles to identify similar benefits.
Most interesting though is the basis on which this type of analysis can be used for decision-making. If a housing provider has money to invest, should it go into community projects, into asset improvement and maintenance, or into new build? This approach can project the relative value of each of these options in terms of social impact. It could also form part of a wider Social Return on Investment analysis that considers the impact on other public services and the wider community as well as residents themselves.
The real value of this kind of study lies not in the details of the numbers themselves, but in helping housing providers understand how they create value, and hence how they can work in ways that maximise their social impact. As Pete Gladwell, Head of Public Sector Partnerships at L&G Property says, "For an institution to have a Corporate Social Responsibility department tacked on is no longer enough - this requires social impact to be evaluated by every investment professional in every investment decision".
Andy has also written a Briefing for Support Solutions about Social Return on Investment - it will be available on The Briefing page, or alternatively sign up to receive our briefing by email and get it straight to your Inbox!
- 05 Sep
Value Generation is a term we've developed to inform a new way of assessing the impact that services for people with additional needs have. It's not complicated. The words "Value Generation" aren't...
- 19 Jul
Ten Tips to Engage Residents Online
1. Be human. Establishing your online voice will enable your organisation to have a distinct online presence. Be a real person and engage with your residents and keep your content regular.2. Trust...
- 22 May
Telehealth Can Give Patients Better Care
Telehealth can make use of modern technology to allow patients to manage their conditions at home, reducing the need for primary care and hospital visits, and giving patients much more control over...
- 07 May
Social-Media Interactions for Victims of Domestic Violence
Very recent statistics from the Guardian indicates that one in six men and one in four women will suffer some kind of domestic abuse during their lifetime. In 2011/2012, domestic violence accounted...
- 31 Jan
Problems with Disability Testing
Last year, Panorama went under cover and found that ATOS testing has been wrongly and unfairly assessing people as fit for work.The programme, aired earlier this week, showed that people are still...
- 31 Jan
Planning Successful Events for the Social Sector
It is possible to create a successful event for the Social Sector by keeping it simple and being creative. Choosing your target audience is very important, and as there is a wide range within the...
- 02 Jan
Exempt Accommodation Criteria and Risks
Exempt Accommodation: What are the qualifying criteria & what are the risks for agency managed services?Part of qualifying as an Exempt Accommodation scheme involves the service being provided to...
- 06 Dec
Latest Developments on Benefit Cap & Direct Payments
One of the details of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Autumn Statement that didn't get a mention in the news coverage is paragraph 2.66. It would mean little to most people; however; the words...
Revenue Optimisation "Coventry Mind has recently worked through a programme of Housing Benefit optimisation with Support Solutions and in particular their specialist Danny Key. Throughout the whole process Danny demonstrated that he has excellent knowledge of the subject and was able to put forward a convincing case for the increase in funding to the Housing Benefit team. Coventry Mind has already and will continue to recommend Support Solutions and in particular this service to other organisations." Steven Hill - Director of Central Services